The recent post on Auto-Tune for Guitar generated much interesting discussion, plus a few good Auto-Tune jokes. Thanks, guys!
The comments from smgear particularly impressed me, because he managed to assemble a wish list for a future digital guitar with more detail and clarity than I could have managed.
It’s always a good idea for smart, articulate musicians to sound off about the musical tools they desire. But that’s especially true now, as manufacturers grapple with technological change with varying degrees of success. People really are listening!
Anyway, smgear wrote:
Basically, the problem is that the majority of the manufacturers seem locked into old paradigms. The bulk of their new designs are intended to mimic something else (Line 6), combine/integrate technologies (Roland) or make the ‘art’ less rigorous (Antares). Those are all fine pursuits and have resulted in some great tech, but they’re basically locking everyone into a pre-1980 palette of sounds, functions, and expression. Quite honestly, after my momentary enthusiasm has passed, I just pick up one of my no-name beater acoustics or electrics and dig in because every day I find a new sound, attack, approach, or whatever that allows me to express something in a new way. It’s true that I could do that playing through those tools, but I don’t need them and they are specifically designed to conform my sound to specific realms rather than to let me explore new spaces.
So with regards to this batch of hex-based modeling tech, my general requirements are fairly simple. I want clean and discrete signals from each string (check), I want a serious multi-core processor AND a couple programmable on-board control knobs/switches (semi-check), and I want an easily accessible and intuitive interface that gives me full control over how each particular string or any group of strings is processed/routed (no check).
For example, wouldn’t it be sweet if I could program the lower two strings to have a drone-like building-sustain, set the width of the effect, and have percussion triggered when I pluck them. Or maybe do that on the second and third strings and leave the bottom just for a percussive trigger and the top 3 strings are normal. Or maybe those top 3 strings are set to ‘12-string’ timbre. Or whatever.
I can sort-of do all of that with the current batch of tech, but it would require components from several companies and about a week to configure each setting – and it would almost certainly fail on stage due to a cable or midi failure somewhere in the line when I trigger it.
Given the processing and touch screen capabilities we now have, I don’t see any reason (other than over-reaching patents) why one of these manufacturers wouldn’t just create an app that will allow users to have total control of the processing. Think of it in stages:
1. select a string(s)
2. select a tuning
3. select a timbre model (instrument/synth)
4. select a pickup model (pickup or mic)
5. add effect 1 (ambient, traditional pedal-based, distortion, etc)
6. add effect 2 (…)
7. add percussive trigger (select sample – static or variable to pitch)
(repeat for other string(s) )
8. add midi trigger
9. assign desired effects settings to controls
10. save patch
The pro-version would also let you dig in and design your own effects – simple enough to do if you have the processing power and an easy way to split/chain the signal and base effect types in the interface.
That would take some serious programming and processing to get that sorted, but seriously, why would any company be investing R&D in anything less? We don’t need more of the same. Give us something new to play with already!! And remember that our goal is to make music, not spend our practicing time screwing around with cables, interfaces, and indecipherable control displays.
Mega-thanks to smgear for sharing all his great ideas, and expressing them so cogently — and for free, no less! (Join the club, man! )
So what do you guys think? There’s no guarantee that some smart manufacturer won’t swoop in and steal all our ideas — but at the very least, putting them out there improves our odds of getting the stuff we want!